Tuesday, March 30, 2010
The Groundhogs - Back Against The Wall 1987
The British Blues/Rock/Prog outfit fronted by guitarist/vocalist Tony McPhee, Released in 1987. Emerging in the early '60s as a Blues band, The Groundhogs were noted for backing visiting American Blues artists such as John Lee Hooker. The band evolved in the latter part of the '60s into a heavy rock group scoring a hit with their fourth and possibly most popular album Split. Through the '70s the band continued to record and play live as a trio with changing band members. The Groundhogs continued through to 2004 when they were finally laid to rest by McPhee. Eight tracks.
The grungsters of Seattle refer to Neil Young as a founding father, but Tony McPhee has more in common with them than anyone else. This album is a bargain and gives the listener a taste of what made the Groundhogs groundbreakers. The only problem is the live material doesn't really cover some of their best stuff off of what I think is the best album, Hogwash, or anything off Who will save the World, as well as Crosscut Saw. Some one in the popular alternative scene needs to step up and acknowledge the greatness of T.S. McPhee. He's earned it.
By Peter W. Hall.
I have had the pleasure of enjoying this remarkable piece of work by Tony McPhee for 14 years. And on a vinyl release at that. When this LP came out in 1986, I thought for sure that the accessibility of this album might propel the Groundhogs into the North American musical mindset and accomplish a spot on the top 100 list for the year. It would have been long overdue and much deserved. Alas, this work went mostly unnoticed except by Groundhog fans.
If you like blues and rock, you will not be disappointed by this release. The album is strongly rooted in blues and rock traditions but achieves a level of originality not all too common. These are finely crafted tunes played with style by a master rock/blues guitarist. As I sit here listening to Waiting in Shadows while writing this review, I feel the same sense of excitement created by such rock classics as Jumpin' Jack Flash. The lead break on Ain't No Slayer brings immediate attention to the song as any classic should. The lyrics are far beyond the usual base sentiment expressed by rock artists. This is a man who has used his music to try and truly touch the souls of his audience and he has succeeded for those who take a listen.
If you have never experienced the Groundhogs before, I recommend that this be your first purchase. Fans of the band may argue the merits of past works of genius by McPhee such as Black Diamond, but Back Against the Wall is an easier introduction to the band. Once acquainted with the Groundhogs, the listener can move on to the heavier style of this band in earlier and later releases.
The final cut on the album is called 54146. This is a reference to the serial number of the Gibson SG guitar stolen from Tony. if you find it, do an artist a favour and return the instrument he loved and lost.
By Kirk Shorting.
Bass- Dave Anderson
Drums, Percussion- Mick Jones
Guitar, Vocals- Tony McPhee
A1. Back Against The Wall 5:26
A2. No To Submission 4:38
A3. Blue Boar Blues 3:14
A4. Waiting In The Shadows 6:17
B1. Ain't No Slaver 4:37
B2. Stick To Your Guns 5:56
B3. In The Meantime 5:15
B4. 54146 3:29